With your health goals in your pocket and your dedication to your heart health, participating in one of the many organized walks, runs, or “fun runs” happening across the country is a great way to get outside with your community.
Never done one of these races before? You’re in the right place. Check out our guide to participating in a walk/run to help you get started!
Choose the right run for you
Whether you’re running for charity or walking for yourself, it’s important you choose the right run for you. As much as you may want to challenge yourself, you need to be practical.
Sign up for the event that matches your current physical ability. Consider factors like competitiveness and race length, and match them to your endurance, fitness, and level of running.
If running makes your knees hurt, then you probably wouldn’t enjoy doing a competitive five-mile run — that race isn’t for you. But maybe a two-mile fun run is!
If this is your first run, you may want to start with a fun run or 5K (which is about three miles). Consult with your doctor to learn what kind of community walk or run they recommend for you.
Sign up for a race
Nothing gets you motivated to reach a goal like making it official. Once you’ve found the right type of race for you, sign up! Then tell your friends and family about the race so they can hold you accountable. By giving yourself a deadline to work towards, you’re making your goal SMART (learn more about setting SMART, heart-healthy goals).
Do a practice run
If you’re nervous about doing your first 5K and keep dreaming up worst-case scenarios, do a practice run. By “practice run,” we don’t mean training (not yet, anyway).
Do a practice run of your race by volunteering at a 5K or a community walk/run first. By learning what you can expect on race day, you can calm your nerves and show yourself how achievable your goal really is.
Take things step by step
Whether you’re walking a fun run or running a 5K (or longer race), you need to put in the practice to prepare your body, especially if you’re out of shape. Take your training step by step — start small, and then build up your distance from there.
If you’re walking your race, start training by walking around your neighborhood. Then gradually add distance each week. In a few weeks’ time, you’ll be walking the same distance as your upcoming event! Our Get-Moving Walking Plan for Beginners can help you train.
And the same goes for training to run. You need to give your body time to acclimate to the new demands you’re putting on it.
Make a Positive Impact on Your Health & Community
There are countless benefits to running: it strengthens your heart and lungs, tones muscles, improves sleep quality, and enhances your mood. And doing a 5K race, fun run, or walk/run lets you give to your community, all while doing something positive for and empowering yourself.